If you’re considering a repaint on your kitchen cabinets, you might wonder if you should also coat the inside surfaces, such as doors, shelves, and drawers.
The inside of the cabinets is often visible when the doors are open (or if you have glass windows), so it makes sense that you would want them to look nice by adding a layer of protection with quality enamel paint.
But because reaching and painting the areas (even after removing the cabinet doors and other hardware) is often challenging and time-consuming, and it rarely does add to the functional value if the inside of cabinets is not much visible, it’s not always necessary to invest time and energy painting them.
However, there are a few considerations before you conclude. In this blog post, I will discuss the pros and cons of painting the inside kitchen cabinets so you can make an informed decision based on your specific condition.
Painting Kitchen Cabinets Inside – Pros and Cons
Although time-consuming and sometimes tricky, painting the inside of the kitchen cabinets is worth it because:
1- It Adds an Extra Layer of Protection
Cabinets in your kitchen are constantly exposed to oil vapors, grease, dust, and other debris – even from the inside. So painting these surfaces creates a barrier that will help to protect the wood.
2- It Brightens up the Space Inside
A fresh coat of paint color brightens up the inside of your cabinets and makes them look newer, even if they’re starting to show some wear and tear on the outside.
Painting the inside cabinet drawers will also help to create a cohesive look throughout your kitchen, making it look more organized and put together.
3- You Can Use Paint to Line the Shelves
One way to make the inside of your cabinets more functional is to use paint to create lines or dividers on the shelves, which can be especially helpful if you have many small items that tend to get lost in the shuffle.
4- It Makes it Easier to Clean
A fresh coat of paint (semi-gloss or high-gloss paint) will also make it easier to wipe down the interiors of your cabinets when they need to be cleaned. This way, you can keep the inside of your cabinets looking nice and clean without having to scrub too hard.
5- You Can Change the Color Whenever You Want to
After painting, if you don’t like the color you’ve painted inside your cabinets, it’s easy enough to change it. Simply pick up the fresh paint and brushes and repaint them differently when bored.
While there are some definite advantages to painting the interiors of your kitchen cabinets, there are also a few drawbacks to consider, including:
1- It’s Time-Consuming
You know cleaning and preparing the surfaces thoroughly before painting is essential. You may also need to remove the doors and hardware of your cabinets before you start.
This can take up much of your time, especially if you have many cabinets in your kitchen to refinish.
Furthermore, depending on the size and layout of your cabinets, it can be difficult to reach some internal areas while painting, so you might have to get creative with how you paint or hire someone to help you.
2- It’s Not Always Necessary
If your cabinets are in good condition and you’re happy with their appearance, there’s no need to paint them from the inside.
It’s only necessary when you’re looking to protect the wood or change the color of the cabinets.
3- You Might Accidentally Paint the Outside of the Cabinets
When painting the inside cabinets, there’s always a risk of accidentally getting paint on the outside as well.
To avoid this, you must tape off the areas around the doors and handles before you start painting. This again adds to the time, energy, and money you’ll need to spend on the project,
Painting the Inside of Kitchen Cabinets Step-By-Step
Painting the inside of kitchen cabinets isn’t very tricky if you know how to do it correctly.
Here is a step-by-step process to get the job done right without consuming much time…
Step 1. Remove all doors and hardware from your cabinets, including hinges, handles, or knobs.
Clean the inside surfaces of your cabinets with a degreaser or TSP solution to remove any grease or dirt that could prevent the paint from adhering correctly.
Step 2. Lightly sand the interiors of your cabinets to create a smooth surface for painting. If you see any holes or scratches, fill them nicely with wood filler and sand smooth again once dry.
Once your cabinets are prepared from the inside, it’s time to start priming and painting.
Step 3. Prime the drawers and other inside surfaces with a high-quality primer such as oil-based or shellac primer. This will help the paint to adhere better and prevent any bleed-through.
Step 4. To paint the inside of your cabinets, it’s recommended to use high-quality paints such as Kilz latex or oil-based paints. Latex paints dry quickly with low VOC levels, while oil-based enamels are more durable and offer a better finish.
Start by applying the paint to the difficult-to-reach areas, followed by the larger easy-to-coat surfaces. Use a small bristle brush or a mini roller for the best results.
Step 5. Once the paint is dry, reattach all the doors and hardware. Also, double-check that you’ve painted all the surfaces; touch up any spots if you’ve missed them.
TIP: For interiors, you do not need to add additional coats of paint for extra shine and protection. Just take your time and prep the surfaces properly for a single coat with better adhesion.
What Colors Should You Paint Your Cabinet Interiors?
Benjamin Moore suggests that using a bold pop of color is an excellent choice if you have open shelving or cabinets with glass windows.
But in general, white and neutral colors (like off-white, ivory, or cream) are always the safest choices when painting the cabinets inside. These softer colors go well with any kitchen decor and the cabinets’ exterior. Plus, they will help brighten the inside space, making it feel more spacious.
For the finish, you can choose between a high-gloss, semi-gloss, or even a matte finish. A high-gloss finish will make the space look more sleek and modern, while a matte finish will give it more of a traditional look.
If you’re unsure what color to paint your cabinets, you can always ask for samples and swatches from a local paint store. These allow for testing the colors and their appearance before committing to a specific shade.
Do You Need to Paint the Walls Behind the Kitchen Cabinets?
There is a difference of opinion regarding whether painting behind cabinets is necessary. While some argue it’s a waste of time and resources, others believe it’s vital for achieving a professional look.
If it’s a new construction, I strongly recommend painting behind kitchen cabinets for added drywall protection and a polished outcome. However, if it’s a refinishing project, whether or not you paint the walls behind your cabinets ultimately depends on your goals and budget for your home.
Priming and painting the area before installing cabinets in new construction can prevent moisture, save time, and reduce the need for masking. Even if the cabinets cover the kitchen walls, painting them can give you a more consistent look.
And in the future, if you want to remove a cabinet from your kitchen to make room for something or improve the organization and symmetry, it’ll be easier to patch the walls with a matching hue.
On the other hand, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t care about having a perfect finish, you can skip painting the walls behind your cabinets. Just ensure that any bare drywall is adequately sealed to prevent moisture from accumulating and causing potential damage.
Are There Any Alternatives to Painting the Interiors of Kitchen Cabinets?
I understand many of you might be very busy, or DIY painting is just not your thing.
If that’s the case, here are some alternatives you can try instead of painting the kitchen cabinets from the inside. These options can help you refinish your cabinets quickly and easily.
1- Contact Paper
One way to give your cabinets a new look is by using contact paper to line the shelves. It’s the simplest solution that lets you add some color or pattern without having to paint the cabinets.
2- Drawer Liners
These are both decorative and functional, as they prevent dishes and silverware from sliding around and make it easier to clean up spills.
3- Cabinet Inserts
If you want to enhance the functionality of your cabinets, you could also use cabinet inserts. These inserts can assist you in organizing a variety of items, ranging from dishes to spices.
4- Thin Laminate Sheets
Thin colored sheets of laminate can be cut to fit the inside of your cabinets and then glued or taped. You can use them to add a decorative touch without taking up too much space.
5- Decals with Different Shapes and Designs
You can also use decals like peel-and-stick backsplash tiles to add a touch of color and pattern to the cabinet interiors. These decals are affordable, easy-to-apply, and won’t damage the surfaces when removed.
So, should you paint the inside of the kitchen cabinets or leave it as it is?
While it’s not essential, the final decision depends on your preference and what type of finish you hope to achieve by painting them.
If you want to add an extra layer of protection or change the color of your cabinets, then painting the inside is a good idea.
However, if you’re happy with how they look and don’t want to spend the time or money on painting them, there’s no need to do so. You can just clean them and leave them as they are. Or use very little paint to do some touchups.
Before committing to painting the inside of your kitchen cabinets, like doors, windows, and drawers, consider the amount of time it will take, the difficulty of reaching areas, and the risk of accidentally getting the color on the outside.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.